Mel Brooks’ The Producers was a legendarily successful translation from film to stage, but Young Frankenstein, his classic 1974 horror spoof film of Mary Shelley’s gothic tale, proved more problematic on Broadway in 2007. The sprightly 91-year-old Brooks personally oversaw this London revival, along with original director and choreographer Susan Stroman. This lower-budget production in a more intimate space makes the most of a relatively simple set of backdrops by designer Beowulf Boritt, showcasing Brooks’ inventive lyrics and music. The question is, can music hall innuendo survive not just political correctness, but more problematically, the recent outing of sexual exploitation? Laughing out loud through the dazzling – often smutty – lyrics Brooks wrote in his 80s (”Though your genitalia have been known to fail ya”) for me the answer is a giggling yes. And judging from audience laughter from both sexes, I’m not alone.
The hotly anticipated rebirth of the legendary comedy shtick is nigh! Mel Brook’s comedy tour de force as the oldest man in the world (Jewish, Yiddish accent), in improvised interviews with ‘TV reporter’ Carl Reiner, subsequently made into a collection of best-seller albums is about to take to the stage. This month, Canadian-born actor, writer and voice-over artist Kerry Shale, together with the British comedian, producer and writer Chris Neill are bringing The 2000 Year Old Man to JW3 in a verbatim performance where the actors wear earbuds and copy the edited recordings word-for-word, intonation-for-intonation.
Judi Herman has been following the continuing story and was ‘thrilled and delighted’* to get a sneak preview for Jewish Renaissance and to talk to the brand new double act of Shale and Neill. Hear the podcast above or download it for later listening.
*see the show to find out where this quote fits in!
The 2000 Year Old Man runs from Monday 9 – Sunday 22 March. 8pm. £6.50-£12.50. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8988. www.jw3.org.uk